I mentioned before that there are two salads that I have gotten into a rut of eating all the time. Well, this is one of them (and I notice from the comments that many of you are taco salad fans too.) What you see is a bed of spinach and baby lettuces tossed with lime juice, topped by chili-spiced pinto beans and homemade salsa. I’ve also included a little fresh tomato and avocado on the side.
I have to admit to you that on most days I’m too rushed to make both chili beans and salsa, so often one or the other (or both!) comes from a can. But, if you have time to make them from scratch, it’s completely worth it. Besides being able to control what goes into your beans and salsa, you will be amazed at how much better the salad tastes with fresh ingredients.
For the chili beans, I used a pressure cooker, but you can cook these on the stove top or in a slow cooker. The pressure cooker just makes it so much faster.
Homemade Chili Beans
- 1 pound dried pinto beans rinsed, picked over, and soaked
- 3 cups water
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 whole dried red chilies optional
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste see tip below
- 2-3 teaspoons chili powder may use all or part chipotle chili powder
- salt to taste
- 1 green bell pepper minced
- Cover the beans with water and presoak them overnight; or do a quick-soak by bringing them to a boil for one minute, removing them from the heat, and allowing them to stand, covered, for one hour.
- Drain the soaking liquid from the beans. Place them in the pressure cooker with the water, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, and chilies. Close the pressure cooker and bring it to high pressure; cook for 5 minutes at high pressure. Remove from heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally.
- (If you’re cooking them in a regular pot or crockpot, cook until the beans are just soft enough to eat. The time will vary depending on your beans and method of cooking, but on the stove, allow at least an hour of cooking; in the slow cooker, count on at least 3 hours on high or 6 on low. Then proceed with the rest of the recipe.)
Open the cooker and remove the dried chilies, if you used them (squeeze them gently to get out all the flavor, but don’t add the seeds to the beans if you don’t want them to be spicy). Add the remaining ingredients and cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes. Adjust seasonings to your own taste. Serve hot with fresh salsa.
When I make salsa, I never measure ingredients, so this is just a list of what I usually add:
chopped green pepper
chopped red onion
minced jalapeño pepper
Tip: After you open a can of tomato paste and use what you need, freeze the rest in a freezer bag for a later use. Flatten the bag so that it’s easy to break off a chunk of tomato paste whenever you need it.
This makes about 8 servings of beans. Try it as a filling for burritos, or mash it and “fry” it in a non-stick skillet for refried beans.
Okay, that’s 4 out of 5 salads for my week of salads. Tune in tomorrow to see another of my old favorites!
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